Abstract: Yoko Hama

Languages and identity of Japanese immigrants in Paraguay
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

This pilot study investigated the language contact situation of a community of Asian immigrants in Latin America, and observed the connection between language maintenance and identity formation. Data in this study come from informal interviews with three individuals who are first and second generation Japanese immigrants in Paraguay. The data were transcribed and analyzed qualitatively using discourse analysis. This study reveals how these Japanese immigrants and their descendents use different languages to position and identify themselves in relation to their family members in Japan, the Japanese immigrant community in Paraguay, as well as the local Paraguayan society, which is uniquely bilingual in Spanish and Guaraní. It also shows that language ideology and identity have effect on the effort that is put towards language maintenance. This study contributes to the understanding of the process of language shift, formation of ethnolect, as well as construction of identity of individuals and communities of the Asian diaspora in Latin America.